find my wool felt scarves, vessels and jewellery at ...
: : Craft ACT Shop in Civic, ACT
I recently travelled to Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains for a three-day nuno felt workshop with Vilte, a Lithuanian feltmaker. On the way I called into the wonderful Sensational Silks warehouse in western Sydney to choose some silk chiffon, gauze and Paj suitable for nuno felting. Of course I was very tempted to buy a lot more silk there, but this will have to wait for next time.
I had wanted to go to the Blue Mountains for a long time to experience the landscape there. Michelle Snowdon organised accommodation close to lookouts and walking tracks, and early one morning I walked past beautiful old homes and gardens down to the lookout to see the views.
On the first day of the workshop we all made nuno felt samples with ruffles, rivers and roses using layers of sheer silk fabrics and superfine wool fibre to create wonderful felted surface texture. My samples were mainly white, and other people made gorgeous samples that were much more colourful!
For our nuno felt garment we carefully measured ourselves before making our pattern. I designed and made a scale drawing of my felt tunic that has (hopefully flattering) vertical stripes of contrasting textures. I worked with sheer white silk fabrics in some areas, adding yarns and fibres I had dyed in other areas. Wool fibre was laid on the bias so the tunic could stretch when being worn and drape better.
On the last day everyone worked hard to finish off their nuno felt garments. We didn’t have much time for taking photographs but here are a few feltmakers at the workshop.
I was able to lay out most of my tunic by the end of the workshop, but had to very carefully roll it up still very wet in a huge plastic tarp for the trip home. My next blog post continues the story.
My stall display at the Old Bus Depot Markets has really evolved over the last year. I briefly used a marquee frame to display textiles on curtain rods, but thankfully that was short-lived. I now have several custom-made display stands for my of felted and woven textiles.
A large mobile display stand, made in May last year, has been a great way to show scarves and wraps of various sizes. Rods at three heights, close to eye level, make it easier for people to see every scarf. Long timber dowelling, each measuring 2.4 metres/ 8 feet long, rest in holes at various heights in the two sides. There is also a generous space to store boxes and packaging in the base of the stand, out of sight.
It’s a flexible display system as it’s now summer and I am only using two rods for a limited number of my scarves and wraps. This allows space at the bottom of the stand to display cards and other small items on the lid of the base.
A recent addition is the stand I designed for my felt vessels, shown on the table in the right of the image. This customwood stand is for displaying various small 3D items in the round, and easily packs down flat. I like the way the structure creates little alcoves for displaying related objects together.
I have made a few more improvements to my market display. My three female torsos on stands have skin-tight jersey sheaths in a dark blue-grey colour that seems like a good neutral colour to drape textiles of any colour on.
During last winter I used rubber-backed carpet for warmth, donated by my mother. I’ll continue to use the carpet lengths as they help to define my stall space, and it’s nice for people to walk on.
I recently made a nuno felt wrap, the first one I’ve made for a while.
It’s simply two layers of white superfine merino carded with a small amount of a blend of black merino and flax with natural silk fibres. Separating the two layers of wool fibre is fine white tissue silk fabric that shows very subtly in the areas between the triangles of fleece. There’s loose silk fabric band along one edge and a fringe at one end.
Being superfine wool it feels so soft, and weighing only 80 grams (nearly 3 ounces) it’s very light and drapable. You can wear it in different ways to feature either the fringed end or the silk band.
My inspiration came from browsing aerial images of the Australian landscape on the internet. I found a great online album of the photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand who seems to spend his time seeing the landscape from above. This is his website http://www.yannarthusbertrand2.org. In this nuno felt wrap I was trying to capture the ripples in the sand of Arthus-Bertrand’s image of the Buccaneer Archipelago in the Kimberley area of coastal north-west Australia.
Although not very successfully, I was trying to create ripples in the silk fabric by laying the wool fleece vertically and rolling across the width of the wrap. In theory it should work, but maybe it needs more rolling to get those ripples happening.
Surprisingly, in the hot summer weather we’ve had in Canberra my felted scarves and wraps have attracted a lot of interest at the local markets. People are thinking ahead to winter, I guess. As a long time feltmaker it’s really great to see a broader acceptance of felting now – a very different situation to when I started making felt. Most people buying my felt are familiar with the felting process, or know other feltmakers. This growing enthusiasm towards felting might be due in a large part to our very active Canberra Region Feltmakers group, set up in the mid-nineties.
Starting to have a stall at the markets at this time of year featuring wool felt has been quite challenging. Before the interest shown in my wearable felt, my ideas for new things to make for local Canberra weekend markets steered right away from wearable scarves and wraps. My current summer stock includes more practical things such as hand-woven home furnishings and tableware, as well as delicate felt lattice bells for hanging on Christmas trees. My wearable wraps and scarves are displayed at the markets more as a backdrop to my newer woven and felted homewares.
I’ve also been developing an idea to make felt Christmas trees, based on ones I exhibited many years ago for one of the Crafts for Christmas exhibitions organised by Craft ACT. The current tree is a scaled down version more suited for display on table tops. With an oiled timber base and post, the Christmas tree all comes apart and stores flat for storage in a box. Finalising the design details is proving to be rather slow, hopefully I’ll have some ready for the Old Bus Depot Markets this weekend.
Am busy setting up studio spaces for making my textiles. I have been involved with textiles for a long time -mainly as a feltmaker, weaver, dyer and dressmaker – and have collected lots of wonderful yarns, fibres, fabrics and books.
I’m really lucky to have some spare rooms in my house. So, instead of spreading all over the house when I’m in creative mode, there are dedicated spaces for each textile activity. A felting studio is downstairs with access to outside, with an adjacent bathroom for wet felting and dyeing of fibres, yarns and fabric.
My various looms and a fibre preparation area occupy the family room, which has a great view across to the Brindabella mountains. Storage and textile finishing processes now happen at the other end of the house, along with an office space.
It will be great to be able to have functional work spaces, so I can work on different felting and weaving projects at the same time. But can I keep the dining table clear?
I will be blogging about my weaving, felting, spinning, dyeing and other textile activities from time to time, once I work out how to do it.
I’m setting up my home studio in Canberra. Until my next post, this is a woven panel from the Urban Constructions series I exhibited at M16 Artspace, Kingston, ACT in mid 2005.